Guest post by Susan Tyson, a long-time volunteer with SSD
For 10 years, we have done what everyone involved in SSD does—volunteer and help a great program! And like most other people, Bill and I volunteer in other ways in our community in Carlisle. One of our favorites is to sponsor an International Fellow from the Army War College at Carlisle Barracks each year. An International Fellow is a senior military officer who joins the US officers for a one-year master’s degree in National Security Studies. Sponsors help the family find a home and get acclimated to the Carlisle area and also spend the year introducing them to life in the United States customs. One custom that Americans take for granted is volunteer work and helping and working with our fellow citizens.
When Colonel Robert Bieleny, his wife Jana, and their daughters, Katerina and Christina, came to live in Carlisle in 2011-2012, they had to leave their Golden Retriever, Bella, home in the Czech Republic. They were delighted to learn that we had dogs! And then they were interested in learning about service dogs and clicker training. When they found out that SSD wouldn’t exist without volunteers, they were amazed. They jumped in and volunteered, supporting SD throughout their year in the midstate. They puppy hugged and cared for SSD Midge’s Eastern Star pups, helped Crystal and Alicia (other SSD volunteers) all day in the agility area at PawsAbilities, walked in the Highmark Walk for a Healthy Community, cared for SSD Scarlett in their home, attended SSD’s graduation and volunteer appreciation ceremony, and now back in their home city of Brno in the Moravian region of the Czech Republic, they are avidly follow SSD on their Facebook Page and blog.
We were fortunate enough to have the Bieleny family invite us to see their country the way we had shown them the United States. While we were in the Czech Republic, SSD Julia gave birth to her puppies, and we thought it was appropriate to call this litter the Czech litter.
The pink-collared female is named SSD Jama, after Jana, who worked hard to prepare many delicious typical Czech meals.
The purple-collared female is SSD Garnet, named for the gemstones—garnets—that are mined in the Czech Republic.
The yellow-collared male is named SSD Prague, after the historic city that is the capital of Czech Republic. A visit to Prague includes the Sternberg Castle and St. Vitus’s Cathedral (with construction beginning in 1344!) up on the hillside. Down below crossing the river Vlatava (Moldau) is the Old Town Square, started in the early 1300s, with the fascinating Astronomical Clock. Further down the street is the new town—dating from the mid-1350s—with Wenceslas Square, site of the 1989 protest rally that led to the Velvet Revolution and the end of Communist rule.
SSD Bohemia, the black-collared male, is named for the western part of Czech Republic. Here in the Bohemian highlands, we visited the medieval town of Cesky Krumlov, which also has a huge castle perched on a hilltop. Somewhat smaller but still lovely was the nearby town of Bechyne, with the military facility where Colonel Bieleny has command of the only engineering brigade in the Czech Army.
The eastern part of the country is known as Moravia, and it’s filled with long fields of corn, rye, poppy, sunflowers, and vineyards. The red-collared male puppy is named SSD Moravia. The Bieleny home is located in a small town outside the city of Brno in this area. Several mornings, Robert and Bill went on their morning run over the fields where the battle of Austerlitz was fought in 1805, when Napoleon was victorious over the Russians and Austrians.
Brno is also an old city, dating to the ninth century. We all enjoyed the old center of town, and the St. Peter and St. Paul Cathedral. At the top of the cathedral’s spires, the bells tolled the hour and made me and Katerina jump out of our skins!
Also in Moravia are the huge limestone karst caves. We took a tour of the Punkva Caves, which ended with a boat ride on the river that flows through and out of the cave.
Enjoy the photos of the Czech pups and wish them well on their journey to becoming special services dogs! Bill and I had a wonderful journey as well, thanks to Robert, Jana, Katerina, Christina, and Bella (their lovely Golden Retriever).